Welthungerhilfe's approach for a localized EAP development - Step-by-Step Guidance

Why use a localized EAP development approach?
Welthungerhilfe is convinced that Early Action Protocols (EAPs) need to be developed in collaboration and participation with all stakeholders at all levels to allow for all involved parties to engage and co-determine the processes and its results. Only through this participation an EAP achieves a high acceptance and buy-in at all levels of engagement, understanding of roles and responsibilities and ultimately makes the whole process more sustainable and adapted to the needs of affected populations.

Who is involved?
Engagement of actors at all levels, from community members, community committees, to local and national governments and agencies (and if appropriate Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, other humanitarian and development organizations, research institutions, and the private sector or other relevant actors)

Level of Implementation:
Research for the selection of actions at the local level: consultations with communities on past impacts, needs and risk factors will need to be carried out with sample communities: community-level data can provide a sense of the type of impacts, risk factors and support needs that might apply to other communities in the larger area exposed to the hazard.

Methods to use can include tools such as a review of historical (and current) data; a literature review; semi-structured, key informant interviews; focus group discussions; community visits; stakeholder workshops and community surveys. The methods, tools and templates presented are based on Welthungerhilfe templates and other resources such as the Red Cross Red Crescent FbF Practitioners Manual and are specifically adapted to an NGO context. The following describes an exemplary outline of Welthungerhilfe’s EAP development process already put into action and reviewed and edited for lessons learned.

Early action identification and EAP development: step-by-step guidance

Step 1: Work plan activities under general custodian activities

Step 1 creates a stable foundation for a highly participatory and localized process, before the identification of early actions, and the development of an EAP, takes place. It does this by answering the following questions:

  • What is the basic idea behind FbA?
  • How is Welthungerhilfe’s programme structured?
  • What are the main tasks and responsibilities of EAP custodians?
  • How will stakeholders and communities be involved?
  • What are stakeholders’ and communities’ expectations towards the project – for EAP custodians and/or Welthungerhilfe?

An inception workshop is held in order to present the overall idea behind FbA, the EAP Custodian Approach for EAP Development and the overall steps to be taken to most relevant EAP development stakeholders (i.e. district governmental stakeholders and community leaders). It evaluates which and how stakeholders and communities will be included in the participatory process and what their expectations are. If it has not been done so far, the inception meeting should be used to identify wards (or similar divisional level) for the community assessments in a participatory process and agree on particular activities the project will implement in the course of the EAP development. Generally, the workshop is intended to create a buy-in by stakeholders into the overall process.

Deliverables: Inception Meeting Report and Overall Inception Report

In general, this activity should be an ongoing process. The EAP Custodian needs to maintain fluid communication with district stakeholders to keep them informed about the planned activities, progress, and results. Stakeholders need to be consulted and fully participate at every stage of the EAP development process. This includes stakeholder consultations and sensitization at provincial and district levels to evaluate on the process of the project on a deeper level.
This process includes agreeing on a joint workplan and the methodologies to be used, discussing modes and formats of communication and exchange, as well as roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and their expectations for the project.

Deliverables: Stakeholder Workshop Reports

This activity in general is also an ongoing process. Communities need to be informed continuatively to keep them informed about the planned activities, progress, and results. Community members need to be consulted and fully participate at every stage of the EAP development process.
This process includes community awareness meetings attended by for instance councillors, village heads, village committee members, farmers’ representatives, and other relevant stakeholders. Content presented should include the overall idea behind FbA, the EAP Custodian Approach for EAP Development and the overall steps to be taken, especially regarding participatory activities which will need communities’ input. While evaluating on participatory processes of the project also consult participants for their input and expectations for the process.

Deliverables: Community Awareness Meeting Reports

Note: As part of programmatic learning, an ‘over-research’ or research fatigue of communities was observed. Therefore, it should be checked whether it might be feasible to merge community awareness activities from Step 1.3 with first community consultations in Step 2.1.

Step 2: Identification, prioritization and validation of early actions

Step 2 answers the following key questions:

  • What are the main impacts caused by the hazard in question?
  • Which harmful impacts can FbA reduce?
  • Which early actions will best reduce these impacts?
  • Which of these early actions are currently feasible given the existing context and capacities?

As the goal of Early Actions in FbA is to prevent or reduce the humanitarian impact of extreme weather events, in our case drought, it is of crucial importance to understand the expected impact (how and to whom?). Therefore, the EAP Custodians should research on the following issues:

  • Review of existing drought contingency plans, regular social safety, lean season, or other drought-related interventions and existing anticipatory action plans of other actors
  • Identify how agricultural drought will impact livelihoods and food security
  • Identify coping strategies and behavioural changes of people in case of an imminent drought
  • Identify how different Early Action might steer these coping strategies and minimize impact of agricultural drought
  • Identify Window of Opportunity for Early Action to answer “when an Early Action would be most effective”


Stakeholder Participation: District Stakeholder Workshop + Key Informant interviews with stakeholder

District Stakeholder Workshop

  • Presentation: Overview of the concept of FbA and update on the EAP development
  • Review of research findings and impacts of drought
  • Group Activity: Group Discussion asking stakeholder to rank impacts and coping strategies
  • Presentation: Policy and practice review of DRM/Contingency plans etc. and Early Action Database for Anticipatory Action - Anticipation Hub
  • Group Activity: brainstorming and prioritization of Early Actions that could be taken to address the priority impacts and (negative) coping strategies also reflecting on the potential window of opportunities for each Early Action

District Key Informant Interviews
Key Informant Interviews are a useful tool to incorporate the view of stakeholders in the EAP Development Process (see Annex 3 - Stakeholder Semi-Structured Interview Guide)

Potential Methodology:
Interviewing of at least one individual of each stakeholder group to reflect on stakeholder’s view on drought impact, already present drought efforts (streamlining of efforts), community coping strategies, preferred/feasible Early Actions and challenges to look out for.

FGDs/Community Meetings and Ranking
In the context of a Focus Group Discussion/Community Meetings and an included community ranking, an exchange between a homogenous group (see example methodology below) can help to identify drought impacts, typical coping strategies and preferred Early Actions.

Example methodology:
In each community three FDGs could be organized (for more detail see Annex 4 – Community Meetings and Ranking):

  1. Community Leaders (5-10 participants): e.g. Village leader, Members of the local disaster risk reduction committee, Representatives of women’s groups
  2. Men (6-10 participants): males from intervention communities, preferably from more highly impacted/ vulnerable households (consult community leader), homogenous group (regarding age, vulnerability but vary between communities to allow balanced participation across communities) to enable participants to speak freely
  3. Women (6-10 participants): females from intervention communities, preferably from more highly impacted/vulnerable households (consult community leader), homogenous group (regarding age, vulnerability but vary between communities to allow balanced participation across communities) to enable participants to speak freely

Note: As part of programmatic learning, it became evident that communities can also identify Early Actions which are feasible to be self-implemented by communities without external funding. Hence, as part of the identification of Early Action for the Early Action Protocol implemented by EAP holders it might also make sense to reflect with communities which strategies they could make use of themselves to prepare for impending drought impacts autonomously.

  • Use evidence from activities above, determine which actions are most promising to reduce suffering and losses  assess and rank Early Actions
  • Develop Theories of Change for different Early Actions

Prioritization of Early Actions
Use prioritization feedback from communities and stakeholders to integrate in a merged prioritization of Early Action and assess against objective criteria. The following objective criteria below should be considered during the selection process (see Red Cross FbA Manual - Chapter Select Early Action under Step 4 Narrow and Prioritize Early Actions for more explanation of criteria):

  • Policy Fit
  • Evidence of Effectiveness
  • Scale
  • Feasibility
  • Social Acceptability
  • Capacity of Implementation
  • Value for Money/Efficiency
  • Alignment with organizational mandate and priorities
  • Timing
  • Action lifetime
  • Benefit of acting early
  • No regret actions
  • Do no harm / avoid generating new risks
  • Lifetime of prepositioned relief items
  • Budgetary constraints regarding prepositioning

Theory of Change Development
One essential step of planning for an identified and prioritized Early Action is to test the logic behind the selected Early Action. This can be done by developing a Theories of Change (ToC) which lays out how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. Overall, it is an illustration of a step-by-step outline how and why the desired outcome will be reached by implementing an Early Action.

While it helps you to see if an Early Action is actually able to prevent the forecasted impact of a drought it can also be used as a basis for developing a logframe and monitoring and evaluation framework.

All Early Actions which are considered after prioritization should be translated into a ToC, giving you an overview which Early Action is able to tackle which impact, have which outcome, and should therefore be included in your Early Action Protocol. If feasible, seek feedback from stakeholders.

Exemplary ToC:

Planning activity to prepare for different severities of food insecurity, numbers, and groups of beneficiaries, expected needs per scenario as well as corresponding scale of Early Actions

  • Identify different livelihood groups to be assisted based on vulnerability assessment (also in relation to targeting criteria)
  • Identify and quantify potential needs per hazard severity (medium and severe). Refer to expected household needs & coping strategies, quantify if possible
  • Assess selected Early Action in regard to possibility to scale, organizational feasibility and costs per scenario
  • Develop respective budget for the two scenarios (severe and moderate) in regard to expected assisted households and number of people

Desk review, include outcomes in overall stakeholder workshop for validation if necessary

Note: As part of programmatic learning, a meeting fatigue of stakeholders was observed. Therefore, it should be checked whether it might be feasible to merge Step 2.2 and 2.3 (prioritization of identified Early Actions and scenario planning) to cut down needed stakeholder consultations and make exchanges as effective and valuable as possible for EAP developer and consulted stakeholders.

Step 3: EAP development, validation and operationalization

Step 3 answers the following key questions:

  • Who will do what, and when?
  • Does the EAP reflect the reality?
  • How can an EAP be operationalized? Are we ready to implement the EAP?

After having finalized the prioritization of Early Actions a final feedback mechanism with the community allows to integrate last concerns and input from people affected. While presenting outcomes of previous community and stakeholder involvement in the identification, prioritization and validation of Early Actions incl. finally prioritized Early Actions, these meetings allow to verify the outcomes and receive further input on prioritized Early Action on, for instance window of opportunity, preferences etc.

Methodology Feedback Meeting:

Participants: e.g. Community Leaders (e.g. Village leader, Members of the local disaster risk reduction committee, Representatives of women’s groups)

  • Presentation: Outcomes from Step 1: identification, prioritization and validation of Early Action incl. Window of Opportunities of Early Action and Scenarios
  • Group Activity: Group Discussion asking participants for feedback on prioritization of Early Actions and ToC (discuss assumptions etc.), as well as verification of identified Window of Opportunities and scenarios
  • After Meeting: Integrate results from meeting in further development of EAP

This step aims to plan and ensure the organizational preparedness and operationalization of the EAP. Methods of the respective steps should be in line with your organizational response and emergency preparedness planning

  • Operational Planning
    • Develop specific ToRs and tasks for all staff involved in the implementation of the EAP in an operational plan
    • Check existing or develop framework agreements with service providers, financial institutions, or other suppliers
  • Draft Budget for the EAP
    • considering different scenarios & numbers and beneficiaries
    • Include all operational costs (staff, transport, logistics, goods & services, communications etc.)
  • Admin Planning
    • Ensure internal project approval processes are followed in advance
    • All organizational authorization processes should be followed in advance if possible
    • Create checklist for approval and grand management
  • Draft EAP

After compiling the first version of the EAP, the EAP stakeholder should receive the chance to review the document and give feedback, e.g. though a workshop.